Returning from the Christmas break the coaching team were not sure what state the Raiders players would be in. Would Florian be ruled out with the latest STI outbreak? Would Foxy still fit into his shirt? and would Jimmy Q have even more wrinkles?! …. Whilst we can be certain that Jimmys looks aren’t getting better we remain unsure about the other two. In all seriousness the lads showed no sign of a winter break hangover as they dispatched a decent Hotshots side with relative ease, running out 3-0 winners after 80 minutes.
There were several stand out performances for the Raiders on the day as the team pretty much controlled Sundays game across all areas of the pitch. Mirko putting in arguably his best performance of the year, having not much to do but when called upon he produced two excellent saves to start the year off with a clean sheet. Whether he spoke at all throughout the game is a different matter. Hung and Florian ensured that no trouble was presented from the wings as they both put in strong performances, Hung in particular looks to have benefitted from the break, sharp in the tackle and on the ball. A strong performance. At the heart of the defence Jimmy Q and Stefan, both limiting Hotshots to few chances and both played the ball well when coming forward. Olly later replaced the ageing JQ, a change that could disrupt a teams momentum but in this case Raiders carried on without a stutter.
The game itself started at a fast pace, Raiders trying to move the ball quickly to release the leagues fastest player in Fola. Few chances were presenting themselves early on, but Raiders were having good possession and putting pressure on Hotshots. In midfield Foxy, Chris, Clem and Emma all were hungry for the ball and tried hard to create openings, although it was frustrating that chances were not being created it seemed that Raiders would need to be patient and to keep their heads.
Clem was lively throughout and as always a big threat, a drive from midfield saw his shot well saved by the keeper in the first half. The ball was moved from left to right, but it was tight, there needed to be a break in score to open up the game. Fortunately for Raiders that lucky break came when Foxy wipped in a corner, the ball making its way to the back post for Clem to rise and head down and into the back of the net 1-0. A deserved lead and a well-timed header.
The change forced Hotshot to try and get themselves back into the game but it was a struggle for them to breakthrough. At half time Raiders came in deservingly in front and hungry for more. Often after a break of games a team’s momentum can be disrupted but that wasn’t happening today, Raiders once in front never looked like giving up that lead. Any team falling behind to a team like this has a hard task ahead of them, in this team we don’t just have goals from all areas but were not going to roll over and let teams back into the game. Hotshots knew that and it was only a matter of time before Raider added to their lead.
10 Minutes into the second half Hoggy was put through on goal and after nutmegging the CB dragged his shot wide, a chance wasted perhaps when Fola and Clem were making late runs to catch up for the square ball…. Coach Colin did say ‘Shoot Shoot Shoot..’ and we all know that its his way or the highway 😉 The balls kept coming forward, Stephan in particular was looking like he’d been on a fitness camp over Christmas, brining the ball out of defence on several occasions, but no Maradona turns today. Save that for next week maybe.
Fortunately, enough when the next chance fell to Hogg he thumped a near post drive past the keeper to make it 2-0. Raiders now in complete control. Scotty, Sven and Ben M coming on to the pitch during the closing stages and again the transition of players left no disruption. A snapshot from distance forced Mirko into a save, showing his concentration wasn’t wavering.
Fola had worked hard all game and continued to be a threat, after he linked up with Clem Raiders won a corner and Foxy stepped up to take it. Foxy then whipped the ball near post and Hogg got a toe to it in front of the defender, the ball hit the roof of the net, 3-0. Two minutes later the ball was in the back of the net again, ruled out for offside… when in fact a good yard on.. SIFL VAR required, Hattrick denied.
As the game was drawing to a close Raiders continued to move the ball and looked to protect their lead. When the whistle brought the game to an end it brought a cheer for the Raiders who are now sitting with a healthy lead of once challengers Hotshots. Clem, Stephan, Hung, Mirko all putting in solid performances and supported by all others in the team, on a player rating system you couldn’t imagine anyone scoring less than a 7/10, it was a good performance from the team. The emphasis then should be on what a great team performance it was to kick off 2020, one that will need to be repeated if Raiders want to put Sportings hopes for silver wear to bed next weekend. MOM of the Day, Stephan, deservedly taking the majority of votes from his teammates. Yours truly perhaps not so deservingly taking the Turkey… for a change it was not for getting booked for some childish behaviour, instead… this time for not getting booked whilst chasing a booking.. with the childish behaviour of course. Heres to an adult 2020.
Happy New Year Raiders!